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Management of the Environment

(83) When faced with a problem it is always an interesting proposition to ask the question,

How might I make this problem worse?

Such an approach invariably highlights areas for corrective action. There are a number of common environmental failures that are associated with problems and loss of performance in the dry sows, lactating sows, sucking pigs and the growing pigs. These call for management actions.

Environmental Factors Affecting Dry Sows

  • Catabolic state from weaning to 21 days post-service.
  • Grouping sows at weaning. Fighting.
  • Poor light intensity.
  • Fluctuating lighting patterns.
  • Fluctuating temperatures day and night.
  • High air flow, draughts.
  • House temperatures above the upper critical temperature.
  • House temperatures below the lower critical temperature.
  • Low mating house temperatures.
  • Poor water availability.
  • Small badly designed tethers or stalls.
  • Faulty floor surfaces.
  • Wet poorly drained floors.

Environmental Factors Affecting Lactating Sows and Sucking

  • Cross-fostering different age groups of piglets.
  • Mechanical transfer of infections between litters.
  • High feed levels pre and immediately post farrowing.
  • Fluctuating farrowing house temperatures.
  • Failure to determine the best farrowing house temperature.
  • Draughty creep areas, low creep temperatures.
  • Draughts on the sow.
  • Continuous throughput. No all-in all-out system.
  • Failure to wash, disinfect and dry between batches.
  • Poor crate design.
  • Wet poorly drained floors.
  • Leaking feed troughs.
  • Poor water supply.
  • Poor lighting.
  • Delayed faeces removal from behind the sow.
  • Fly problems.
Environmental Factors Affecting Growing Pigs
  • Incorrect house temperatures, particularly fluctuations.
  • Pigs held below their lower critical temperature.
  • High ventilation rates, air flow and draughts.
  • Low or fluctuating humidity together with low temperatures.
  • Poor insulation.
  • Worn out environmental controllers and sensors.
  • Floor types, poor drainage, wet floors, slats with draughts.
  • Constant mixing and movement of pigs.
  • Moving pigs too soon from one house to another.
  • High stocking density.
  • Large group sizes and small cubic air space.
  • Continually populated houses with endemic disease.
  • Feed changes when pigs are moved from one house to another together with lower levels of nutrition.
  • Inadequate trough spaces or water availability.
  • Poor or inadequate nutrition.
  • Continual exposure to faeces.
  • High levels of toxic gases.
The first requirement of good management is to prevent the build up of infection through the cleaning and disinfection of buildings, maintaining low stocking densities and good environments. Reducing stress through the effects of fluctuating temperatures and the influences of humidity and ventilation on organisms in the air is the second part. The third part is the provision of good nutrition and in particular, adequate levels of energy, protein and lysine.

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